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The focus acknowledges the topicality and continued relevance of violence to discussions of literature and culture. How does an author ‘write’ violence? Is the representation of violence fundamental to our experiences of art, as commentators such as René Girard have suggested? Is there something ‘new’ in the twentieth-century’s experience of violence, and how might that be part of the modernist aesthetic? Can we identify specifi cally American encounters with violence—in terms of representations, mythologies, and narratives? What does it mean to write about violence as a female author?

Cather has always been implicated and engaged with these debates, ever since Hemingway castigated her portrayal of the Great War battlefields. We encourage participants to think widely and laterally about the topic, however, and to think about the myriad forms in which Cather explores (and sometimes fails to explore) violence and its effects. Violence can be deployed in metaphorical and suggestive ways, as well as taking us back to Cather’s war novel. Participants might well want to address the violence of dispossession, the violence implicit in acts of discovery and collecting, the emotional violence of neglect or misrecognition.

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